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The Spearhead of Normalization
By: Mohammad Al-Sahli
June 1, 2019

It can be said that the "Manama Conference" sets out a new chapter of the Trump deal, after the preceded steps and attitudes towards the Palestinian issue have drawn the nature of the political solution they seek to impose. It is not true that any of the titles and targets of the US deal have been delayed, because they have been delivered to the partners and to the parties involved in the implementation and they have been intentionally leaked to the media by the dealers themselves.

Unfortunately, the weak reactions to American decisions and actions regarding Jerusalem and the issue of Palestinian refugees and their agency; UNRWA, have provided the Trump administration with an easier way than it expected to proceed with its plan.

The Bahraini-American joint declaration on the conference reveals the dangerous role played by official Arab normalization with the occupation, which makes a number of Arab countries as a spearhead in the implementation of the American-Israeli project, at the expense of the rights of the Palestinian people and the peoples of the region.

Jared Kouchner was clear when he spoke of Trump's approach and his "private" understanding of the nature of the Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflict. And therefore to the determinants of settlement of this conflict. As he sees that the previous US and international initiatives in this regard, were based on "traditional" foundations, in their attempt to reach an agreement, signed by the parties of the conflict and to announce its conclusion. Although former US administrations have clearly sided with Israel's political vision and security considerations, but Kouchner considers that a lot of time had been spent in vain.

One of the important differences between the Trump administration and its predecessors, is that previous administrations made the imbalance of power on the ground in favor of the Israeli occupation, to do what it wants practically on the front of settlement and in the context of negotiations also, but at the same time, they pressed continuously to reach a common agreement. While the Trump administration is currently working to apply the imbalances of power and transform it into a sustainable political, social and economic reality. On this basis, the Trump administration began its mandate with decisions and procedures that have touched the Palestinian national project regarding Jerusalem and the refugee issue and before that settlement. On this basis also, the administration has adopted Benjamin Netanyahu's political project regarding the settlement, i.e. the "economic peace" plan, which corresponds to its own approach to the conflict, and with its nature as an administration of business and deals.

Instead of being preoccupied with the negotiations between two opposing parties, the administration of Trump ''the businessman'' proposes its "development" project in the occupied Palestinian territories, like any investment firm planning to build a tourist area attracting the investors. It is precisely from this angle, made the title "Prosperity is the way to Peace" the slogan of the ‘’Manama Political Economic Conference’’.

As the Palestinian side is the weakest in regional and international equations, as Trump's administration reads it, it is the party that is qualified for it to pay the costs of a "regional solution", as many factors have helped it to reach this reading.

• As the Palestinian situation has been living in the reality of the division and its repercussions since 2007. This situation has been exacerbated over time, which has opened the way for Netanyahu's governments to deal with the Palestinian situation according to two separate tracks, in connection to the reality in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. This has encouraged Trump's administration to develop future scenarios for Palestinian entity based on the divide map.

Beside the division, the official Palestinian policy is experiencing a state of confusion and hesitation that has been in its performance for many years. As despite its clear position of rejecting the Trump deal and the decisions issued by his administration on the Palestinian issue, but it has not followed in the supposed direction to face the deal and its dangers with practical policies. This is also one of the indicators and facts that have given the Trump administration in easier way than it expected, in the context of the implementation of its plan.

• The Arab situation is divided in itself, at a stage where there are ravaging internal wars with the structure of a number of its countries and in light of the disappearance of "joint Arab action" after the components of the official Arab situation have been divided into conflicting trenches with each other. The official Arab interest in the Palestinian cause has declined, as it no longer occupies a substantial position, but only in the concluding statements of the Arab summits.

The worst in the Arab official scene is the rush toward normalization with the Israeli occupation, and the transformation of some Arab countries, through it, into a part of the political and economic system that seeks to liquidate the cause of the Palestinian people and its national rights. Perhaps we will see the worst in this scene with the opening of the economic workshop within the framework of the "Manama Conference".

• Washington and Tel Aviv are running a "public relations" war, at the regional and international levels, to break any objections to the US-Israeli project, and are pressing together on many countries to make this project a success. It is regrettable that the German Parliament has taken a decision to criminalize the campaign of boycotting Israel and placing it in the category of anti-Semitism. This decision encourages the Israeli occupation to commit more crimes against the Palestinian people. It is also regrettable that the European Union speaks about the need to examine the Palestinian educational curricula under the pretext that they contain incitement to "hatred", so it can be understood that any glorification of Palestinian struggles against the British Mandate or the Israeli occupation, will be read as incitement. These positions correspond to the American conditions set by the Trump administration in order to adapt the Palestinian situation to the reality of the occupation.

With all the above, and despite all the factors that Washington and Tel Aviv see as a prelude to the success of their project for the liquidation of the Palestinian issue, but the obstacles that Palestinians can put in the way of the deal are large and influential. But to achieve victory in this confrontation, it is necessary for Palestinians to unify their efforts by ending the division, in accordance with the comprehensive national dialogue agreements, and to immediately begin implementing the decisions of the National and Central Councils as well as the internationalization of the Palestinian cause and the adoption of a unified national strategy based on resisting the occupation through rehabilitating the national liberation program.

The problems facing the issue of the Palestinian people and its rights are growing according to a systematic agenda in the procedures and timing, and they need unified Palestinian political and field positions, that go beyond media rejection towards confrontation, especially that the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government do not miss any pressure or threat to impose their project on the Palestinian people and all the peoples of the region.

Mohammad Al-Sahli is Editor in Chief of Al-Hourriah newspaper, the official speaker of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Translated by: Rawda Abo Zarqa
Revised by: Ibrahim Motlaq

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